Three distinct families of glycoprotein complexes present in the envelopes of human cytomegalovirus and designated gcI, gcII and gcIII have been described recently. The synthesis of the gcI family was analysed using either inhibitors of glycoprotein processing and transport or endoglycosidase treatments of purified glycoproteins. The initial step in gcI synthesis involved the glycosylation of a 95K protein (p95) to form a high-mannose, simple -linked glycoprotein of 158K (gp158), which was detected only in the presence of the glycoprotein processing inhibitor castanospermine. This intermediate was rapidly trimmed in the virus-infected cell to form a more stable simple -linked precursor glycoprotein of 138K (gp138). Treatment of either gp158 or gp138 with endoglycosidase H produced p95. Both molecules, gp158 and gp138, were found in disulphide-linked complexes which are presumably infected cell precursors to gcI since they were not found in virions. The processing of these complexes involved complete cleavage of gp138 and conversion of some but not all of its oligosaccharide to complex -linked chains. Both processing events were inhibited by the ionophore monensin. Mature gcI contained the gp138 cleavage product, gp55, in a disulphide-linked complex with a heterogeneous glycoprotein designated gp93-130. The latter glycoprotein could be separated into two electrophoretic forms, gp93 and gp130. The deglycosylated form of gp55 had a discrete banding pattern with an apparent of 46K (p46). In contrast, the deglycosylated forms of gp93 and gp130 had diffuse banding patterns with apparent values of 46K to 56K (p46–56) and 60K to 70K (p60–70) respectively. Peptide profiles comparing gp93 with gp130 indicated that they have highly similar polypeptide backbones. Since the deglycosylated forms of gp55 and gp130, 46K and 60K to 70K, respectively, together exceed the 95K precursor/deglycosylated intermediate in , we propose that the above glycoproteins are derived by an alternative proteolytic cleavage of the precursor. The heterogeneous electrophoretic properties of the deglycosylated forms of gp93 and gp130 may be due to additional post-translational modifications other than glycosylation.


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